Talk About Us on Facebook! How the News Feed Changes Should Change Your Social Media.

Mark Zuckerberg announced big changes coming to Facebook’s News Feed.

This is not the end of the world for marketers, but it should serve as an opportunity to re-evaluate your strategy. Remember that we have seen these kind of changes in the past. Early marketing strategies emphasized “Like us on Facebook” because back then a brand page “Like” meant real reach – as much as 26% in 2011. But as the News Feed became too crowded Facebook adjusted the algorithm and brand page average organic reach dropped to 6 percent by 2014. In 2016 Facebook further emphasized content from friends and family and average organic reach dropped to between 1% to 2%.

What do the Facebook News Feed Changes Mean For Your Social Media Strategy in Marketing, Advertising and PR?Facebook will now emphasize more “meaningful” interactions.

It is admirable that Facebook is making these changes to address problems research has revealed about fake news, depression, anxiety, and addiction. The News Feed will show more from friends, family and groups and less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. However, they acknowledge there are tight-knit communities around certain brands leaving the door open for organic reach. But if that content is passive, not generating comments, likes and shares, it will be de-emphasized. Video may even lose favor because it is more passive while content with longer comments could get a boost as an indicator of more meaningful interaction and sharing. While this may not mean an inevitable “zero organic reach” for all brands, it does require adjustments in your Facebook and larger social media strategy.

First, you may have to pay and pay more for Facebook ads.

Only 5 million businesses advertise on Facebook – just 8% of all 65 million business pages. Yet if more brands want to advertise these New Feed changes indicate that even paid brand posts may be reduced. A tightening of advertising inventory could increase ad costs. It is important to have the right metrics in place to ensure Facebook ads remain a good investment. Even a paid post only buys a view, content still must be good to elicit likes, comments, and shares that increase reach, drive referral traffic and help meet business objectives.

Next, you should consider other ways to get a consumer’s attention on Facebook.

If fans really “like” your content, then they will miss seeing it in their News Feed. You can remind them to like, comment, and share your content to keep it there. You can also remind them to, check their Pages Feed and update notifications settings from your page to ensure they see your posts. It’s probably a good idea to give them a reason why such as “Don’t miss out on our special offers” or “Continue to see our inspiring quotes, beautiful photos, funny videos, or how to tips.” Facebook is also emphasizing posts by groups. Creating a Facebook Group around your customers and brand could be another way to maintain consumer attention.

Then, check your social media customer response rate.

Remember that 67% of consumers seek out brands for customer service on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. This will not go away simply because they see less brand page posts in the News Feed. Research says that 71% who experience positive social customer service experience are likely to recommend the brand to others while 88% are less likely to buy from companies that leave complaints on social media unanswered. Customers also spend 20-40% more when companies engage and respond over social media. Are you losing more customers from unanswered consumer posts than you’re bringing in with brand posts? If your social customer care is not up to par you may be getting negative brand shares you don’t want appearing in News Feeds anyway.

And remember to always keep the broader perspective in mind.

You shouldn’t rely solely on any one platform for customers. A basic social media mistake companies still make is not considering a multichannel social media strategy. While 85% of the Fortune 500 are on Facebook only 75% are on YouTube, just 53% are on Instagram, only 42% have corporate blogs, just 31% are on Pinterest, and only 1% are on Snapchat. Now may be a good time to diversify your social media presence looking at other social channels, and other paid and earned opportunities in digital and traditional media as part of an integrated marketing communications plan. But also keep in mind that good content will get shared no matter where it appears. In the larger perspective of viral marketing if someone likes content a brand has created anywhere online they will share it with their friends in Facebook and through other means you can’t measure like Dark Social.

How to adjust your social strategy based on Facebook’s News Feed Changes:

  1. Get fans and followers to share your content for you. How? Make content worth sharing. Page likes or followers aren’t enough, post likes, shares and comments will bubble up.
  2. Get consumers to engage. Views are not enough. Mark Zuckerberg says “passive viewing of even entertaining or informative content won’t be emphasized. Build a tight-knit community around your brand and “moments in the world that matter” to drive conversation.
  3. Increase ad spending. Up your Facebook advertising budget, but monitor results. Reduced ad inventory will increase costs, so track engagement and other business metrics to ensure a positive ROI.
  4. Don’t forget customer service. Customers will still seek you out on Facebook for help, to ask questions and to get real service issues resolved. Ensure you have a good cross-discipline social customer care system to respond.
  5. Become less Facebook dependent. Facebook says time spent on the service will go down. Develop a multichannel social media strategy considering other platforms and re-evaluate your overall IMC plan. Social media should only be a part of a complete paid, owned, earned and shared effort.

At the end of the day social media marketing is about creating quality content that attracts attention and drives conversation.

Moving forward, getting people to “Talk about us on Facebook,” may be more important than ever and Facebook may become less of a major platform for some brands. With these changes on the horizon now may be the time to conduct a social media audit and not simply rely on a social strategy you set up years ago or simply stay with existing brand social channels only.

Social Media Not Meeting Expectations? Perform A Social Media Audit.

Companies have been active in social media for years. Today 97% of Fortune 500 companies are on LinkedIn, 84% are on Facebook and 86% are on Twitter. But those efforts were likely created in a piecemeal fashion. Different brand accounts were added for different reasons at different times. Objectives or options may have changed. Or you may be so focused on current social accounts you are missing out on opportunities elsewhere. How do you know you are posting the right content in the right places to drive the right consumer actions? Perform a social media audit.

Free Social Media Audit TemplateWhat Is A Social Media Audit?

A social media audit is simply a systematic examination of social media data. It is a snapshot of all social media activity in and around a brand evaluated for strategic insights. Why? Different organizational objectives and target markets may require different social media messages and platforms. Existing brand accounts may be wrong for current business objectives and new social media platforms may be ideal, but were never considered. Perhaps brand social media was started by marketing or public relations, but now customer service requests are overwhelming the system and increased integration is needed.

First Start By Listening.

Use social media tools to gather data about brand social media channels and content. Discover what consumers are saying about the brand, product, service, and key personnel in any social platform. Listen to what is being said by and about brand competitors. You may be monitoring social media daily, but simply responding to what comes your way.

Analyze the bigger picture. Qualify and quantify social media action looking for patterns and opportunity. Listen with an outside perspective to the social talk about your brand, employees, customers and competitors. Look on both official corporate social media accounts and unofficial or personal accounts.

An audit need not capture every mention, but should gather a complete picture. Find conversation on all social platforms. Be sure to consider social networks, blogs and forums, microblogs, media sharing platforms, geosocial, ratings and reviews, social bookmarking, social knowledge, plus podcasts. This Social Media Channel Category Guide provides a quick guide to the top social media platforms in each category by kind and key characteristics.

Next Organize Social Talk Data.

When collecting social talk data it should be organized for meaningful analysis. This can be done by following a social media audit template such as the one I created from the concept of the Five Ws that journalists use to write news stories. Gather social talk into three categories of company, consumer, and competitor (down first row) then record observations by where, what, when, and why (across columns).

Collect and Analyze Social Media Audit Data by:

  • Who—company, consumers, competitors
  • Where—social media channel (YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.) and environment (describe the look and feel)
  • What—type of content (articles, photos, videos, links, questions, etc.) and sentiment (positive, negative, neutral)
  • When—frequency of activity (number of posts, comments, views, shares, etc. per day, week, or month)
  • Why—purpose (brand awareness, promotion, drive traffic, customer complaint, praise, etc.)

The number of rows under “Who” will vary based on the number of brand and competitor social accounts and the number of social media platforms where consumer brand talk is found. Larger organizations may need to divide the “Company” category further into departments, offices, or employees. Capture what each location or executive is communicating.

Then Determine What The Data Is Saying.

Does the data point to opportunities? Are there trouble spots? Do brand social media platforms present a consistent look, voice and unified message? Are customers complaining about similar product or service issues? Is the brand consistently posting quality content and consistently responding to customers? Are there social platforms where customers are talking about the brand, yet there isn’t an official brand presence? Answer these questions and use a five-point scale to mark each channel as a problem (1) or an opportunity (5) for a defensive or offensive social media strategy.

Determining the “Why” for each social action is important. If you can’t think of a strategic purpose then reevaluate the effort. Is maintaining a brand account on specific social media platforms worth the organization’s time? Once a purpose is determined, identify the social media metrics to measure performance. Ask questions such as, “Why does the organization have a Pinterest page and how is success being measured?” “Because everyone is there” and “to increase followers” is not enough. If you know the business purpose and metrics ask, “How has the platform performed? With roughly 10% of marketing budgets spent on social media it is more important than ever to connect social action to higher-level business objectives and justify expense.

Finally Evaluate Brand Engagement.

Are your consumer’s engaging with your brand? How are views, likes, comments and shares? Have they gone up or down over time? Advertising Hall of Famer Howard Gossage said, “Nobody reads ads. People read what interests them.” In social media reach is gained when consumers find content interesting enough to share. Quality content is important. Whether educational or entertaining it must be considered valuable. Only social media that is viewed and shared reaches an audience that can then take action to meet business objectives.

Today you can also interrupt people’s social feeds with paid social media or native advertising. Paid social media can buy reach to a targeted audience, but that does not replace the need to create interesting content. Social media advertising merely buys exposure. Content must convey value to drive consumer action, further distribution, and ultimate ROI.

Is It Time For A Social Media Audit?

If you haven’t evaluated your brand’s social media presence in a while it may be time for a social media audit. Use this template to see how consumers are experiencing your brand in social media. You may uncover some problem areas, promising opportunities, social channels you should be in and ones you should leave behind.

A social media audit can help you:

  • Realize the need for increased integration with other departments.
  • Find gaps in brand promise and product/service performance.
  • Uncover inconsistencies across brand social accounts.
  • Reveal blind spots in current social action with content, schedule and response.
  • Discover consumer ideas for product/service improvements.
  • Optimize brand content to drive engagement.
  • Find unexpected consumer generated content on other platforms.
  • Discover valuable brand or industry influencers.
  • Optimize time devoted to most effective social media platforms.
  • Learn from successful competitor social strategies.
  • Uncover a need for metrics to connect social action to business objectives.

Whether launching a new social media effort or evaluating current social activity, a social media audit can deliver valuable insights to create or optimize any social media strategy.